June 1, 2016 at 7:31 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Massachusetts House approves transgender rights bill

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The Massachusetts House of Representatives on June 1, 2016, approved a bill that would ban discrimination based on gender identity in public accommodations. (Photo by Fcb981; courtesy Washington Blade)

The Massachusetts House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a bill that would ban discrimination based on gender identity in public accommodations.

House Bill 735 — which would expand a 2011 law that prohibits anti-transgender discrimination in employment and housing — passed by 116-36 vote margin. The Massachusetts Senate approved an identical bill last month.

“Today, Massachusetts has bucked a national trend of legislative attacks against the transgender community and offered a simple but powerful acknowledgement to transgender young people, adults and our families: That we are human beings, worthy of respect and deserving of equal protection under law,” said Casey Suffredini, co-chair of Freedom Massachusetts, a group that campaigned in support of the measure.

Grace Sterling Stowell, executive director of the Boston Alliance of GLBT Youth, which serves LGBT young people in the Boston metropolitan area, also applauded HB 735’s passage.

“Congratulations and thank you to all who worked so hard to make today’s State House vote in support of transgender equality such a great success,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “This was truly a historic day.”

Eighteen states and D.C. ban anti-trans discrimination employment, housing and public accommodation.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker told the Boston Globe earlier this week that he will sign the trans rights bill. His comments come less than a month after the Justice Department filed a civil rights lawsuit against North Carolina over its controversial law that bans trans people from using public restrooms consistent with their gender identity and prohibits local municipalities from enacting LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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